on this Thanksgiving Day, may I suggest…

you take five minutes to listen to this song?

There’s no time like the present.

May I suggest
May I suggest to you
May I suggest this is the best part of your life

May I suggest
This time is blessed for you
This time is blessed and shining almost blinding bright

Just turn your head
And you’ll begin to see
The thousand reasons that were just beyond your sight
The reasons why
Why I suggest to you
Why I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a world
That’s been addressed to you
Addressed to you, intended only for your eyes
A secret world
Like a treasure chest to you
Of private scenes and brilliant dreams that mesmerize
A lover’s trusting smile
A tiny baby’s hands
The million stars that fill the turning sky at night
Oh I suggest
Oh I suggest to you
Oh I suggest this is the best part of your life

There is a hope
That’s been expressed in you
The hope of seven generations, maybe more
And this is the faith
That they invest in you
It’s that you’ll do one better than was done before
Inside you know
Inside you understand
Inside you know what’s yours to finally set right
And I suggest
Yes I suggest to you
Yes I suggest this is the best part of your life

This is a song
Comes from the west to you
Comes from the west, comes from the slowly setting sun
This is a song
With a request
With a request of you
To see how very short the endless days will run
And when they’re gone
And when the dark descends
Oh we’d give anything for one more hour of light
And I suggest this is the best part of your life

Susan Werner, May I Suggest, from the album Live at Passim

IMG_4740
I think Pope Saint John Paul II was singing in the same key when he wrote:

We need first of all to foster, in ourselves and in others, a contemplative outlook. Such an outlook arises from faith in the God of life, who has created every individual as a “wonder” (cf. Ps. 139:14). It is the outlook of those who see life in its deeper meaning, who grasp its utter gratuitousness, its beauty and its invitation to freedom and responsibility. It is the outlook of those who do not presume to take possession of reality but instead accept it as a gift, discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person his living image (cf. Gen 1:27; Ps. 8:5). This outlook does not give in to discouragement when confronted by those who are sick, suffering, outcast or at death’s door. Instead, in all these situations it feels challenged to find meaning, and precisely in these circumstances it is open to perceiving in the face of every person a call to encounter, dialogue and solidarity.

It is time for all of us to adopt this outlook, and with deep religious awe to rediscover the ability to revere and honour every person, as Paul VI invited us to do in one of his first Christmas messages. Inspired by this contemplative outlook, the new people of the redeemed cannot but respond with songs of joy, praise and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of life, for the mystery of every individual’s call to share through Christ in the life of grace and in an existence of unending communion with God our Creator and Father.

Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, paragraph 83

Our freedom and our vocation is always found in the moment, in that place where time touches eternity. Not in tomorrow or yesterday:

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages, Four Quartets

Slowing down to be grateful for what life has given us here and now, to be aware of the invitation that is uniquely expressed in this moment, in this place, in this person, can set us free, no matter what the circumstances may be.

Very often we feel restricted in our situation, our family, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts. There we are restricted, and that is the root of our lack of freedom. If we loved more, love would give our lives infinite dimensions, and we would no longer feel so hemmed in.

This doesn’t mean objective situations don’t sometimes exist that need to be changed, or oppressive circumstances that need to be remedied before the heart can experience real interior freedom. But quite often we may also be suffering from a certain confusion. We blame our surroundings, while the real problem is elsewhere: our lack of freedom stems from a lack of love. We judge ourselves to be the victims of difficult circumstances, when the real problem (and its solution) is within us. Our heart is imprisoned by our selfishness or fears, and it is we who need to change, to learn how to love, letting ourselves be transformed by the Holy Spirit; that is the only way of escaping from our sense of confinement. People who haven’t learned how to love will always feel like victims; they will feel restricted wherever they are. But people who love never feel restricted.  That is what little Saint Thérèse (of Lisieux) taught me.

Father Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

Or in the words of Susan Werner:

There is a world
That’s been addressed to you
Addressed to you, intended only for your eyes
A secret world
Like a treasure chest to you
Of private scenes and brilliant dreams that mesmerize
A lover’s trusting smile
A tiny baby’s hands
The million stars that fill the turning sky at night
Oh I suggest
Oh I suggest to you
Oh I suggest this is the best part of your life

Jeremy Casella

I haven’t posted in a long while, but one of my favorite artists is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund his new studio album, so I’m putting in a plug today.

I’ve been drawn to the music Jeremy Casella has produced since the time he was working to put together his first album. If you enjoy the music of Rich Mullins, I think you will likely appreciate the melodies and lyrics which radiate with a soulful Christian authenticity: music by a pilgrim, for pilgrims on the way.  I hope you’ll take a moment to listen and maybe support his campaign that is running now through February 17th.

JeremyCasella_Spirit

Update (2/11/2018): The campaign has been fully funded! But there is still an opportunity to contribute to the project until February 17th.

mike mangione & the union

Website: Mike Mangione & The Union

Mike Mangione & The Union is a touring group that combines a folk-rock sound with an orchestrated string section, soulful vocals and literate sensibility. The band’s previous album, Tenebrae, has received favorable press from all corners of the country, including the honor of being an All Music Guide Album Pick, while Blurt refers to their “tearstained folk, Memphis-styled gospel and bluesy-flavored pop” as “luminous.”

I first encountered Mike Mangione & The Union by attending one of the band’s live concerts a year ago at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, Minnesota (my hometown). In this intimate venue, I was drawn in by their energetic performance and thoughtful lyrics. Watching them play, I marveled at the way that this band—made up of diverse personalities—coheres into a sound so finely-tuned as to resemble one voice. For these artists, music is not so much a performance as a generosity.

The band recently teamed up with Christopher West for a tour called Fill These Hearts, exploring the themes of the Theology of the Body through a blend of talks and musical performance.

complete results of 2011 Catholic Media Promotion Day

The newly minted PromoteCatholicism.com website has all the details.

The response to the first ever Catholic Media Promotion Day was nothing short of phenomenal. We’ve sorted through the many posts and links and we’ve found that you promoted to the public 290 blogs, 88 podcasts, 199 websites, 77 facebook pages, 42 print and/or online magazines and news sources, 43 phone applications, 171 books, 26 companies, 30 music sites and/or musicians, 57 channels/stations/shows, and 75 additional miscellanea including cool Catholic folks to follow on Twitter, cool Catholic things to see on Youtube and other assorted Catholic coolness.

Many thanks to Greg Willits, Lisa Hendey, Sean Sullivan and Matthew Warner for spearheading (and following through with) this effort!

I will continue to flesh out my picks as time allows. Much to say about each of them.

judd and maggie

Website: Choose Judd & Maggie

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Judd and Maggie have been writing and recording together since 2003 when they released their 1st record, Concentrate. In 2005 they were signed with RCA/Victor Records and Chrysalis Publishing and spent the next two years touring the country and promoting their record Subjects, recorded in Cello Studios (Hollywood, CA) with Lenny and Joey Waronker producing. Lenny has produced greats such as Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, and Rufus Wainwright. His son Joey has drummed for hundreds of artists, notably Paul McCartney, REM, and Beck….

In 2007 they moved to Nashville and recorded Kingdom of Noise with producer Neilson Hubbard. Since releasing that record independently and touring, they have also signed with Media Creature Publishing.

OK, I lifted that from their Facebook page. But they are ridiculously talented. And they performed a house concert at my apartment in Los Angeles back in 2005. Much love for the Bolgers here. I recommend starting with their album Subjects and working your way forward. Discerning ears will sense the influence of JPII’s Theology of the Body in the lyrics of tracks like “A Subject I Am”.

UPDATE (3/30/2011): For a limited time, Judd and Maggie’s latest album is available for free download on NoiseTrade. Don’t miss out!